Dr. Don Brown is founder and CEO of LifeOmic.


For Dr. Don Brown, accessible tech signifies extra accessible information.

Dr. Brown is founder and chief executive of LifeOmic, a digital overall health firm whose concentrate is on constructing infrastructure and the underpinnings of overall health tech. LifeOmic describes itself on its web-site as becoming “laser-focused on driving the most revolutionary precision overall health technologies forward to resolve healthcare’s most complicated challenges.” Place basically, that signifies generating complicated information sets extra accessible to persons in the business such as providers, researchers, and enterprises. The huge image concept is apparent: extra accessible information for pros leads to much better, extra effective care for individuals in terms of the actual practice of medicine. Of course, much better and extra effective care is undoubtedly attractive to disabled persons.

LifeOmic came into existence just after Dr. Brown committed a portion of the proceeds from the sale of a earlier firm, a computer software firm referred to as Interactive Intelligence, in 2016. In an interview earlier this month by way of e-mail, he explained the explanation for LifeOmic was to “solve a difficulty vexing the healthcare method in basic and cancer therapy in particular—the intense difficulty in making use of the gigantic ‘omics’ information sets that have been displaying such tremendous guarantee.” (As Wikipedia explains, omics is the colloquial term in the scientific planet for “various disciplines in biology whose names finish in the suffix -omics, such as genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, metagenomics, phenomics and transcriptomics.”)

“I began LifeOmic harboring the conceit that a smaller firm could jump in and make a distinction in healthcare,” Dr. Brown stated of founding the firm.

When asked about his company’s raison d’être, Dr. Brown stated it is about information.

“A sad irony is that though we can now create massive amounts of information capable of personalizing health-related care, our healthcare institutions are woefully ill-equipped to make use of it,” he stated of the healthcare industry’s difficulty in managing huge datasets. “In 2001, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen paid one thing like $100M to have his whole genome sequenced. These days, you and I can do that for significantly less than $1,000. And it is seeking like we can quickly drop one particular of these zeros. Along with that exponential reduce in the expense of sequencing, there has been an explosion in our understanding of what these 3 billion DNA letters truly imply. LifeOmic crawls public databases about the planet just about every evening and has compiled a list of more than 55 billion versions (referred to as variants) of our roughly 20,000 genes and their associations with a variety of illnesses.”

Dr. Brown additional explained an whole genome sequence is about 100GB worth of information, which modern day electronic health-related record systems weren’t made to accommodate. They have been produced, he stated, for insurance coverage purposes—essentially, for facilitating reimbursements. They weren’t produced with an eye for patient care, let alone the “sort of ‘precision medicine’ created attainable by these remarkable scientific breakthroughs,” Dr. Brown stated. An apparent inform, he added, is in cancer study. In this situation, there are two sequences: the patient’s and that of the illness.

“With that facts, we can recognize the precise mutations [changes] that are driving the cancer,” Dr. Brown stated. “The thrilling point is that armed with that expertise, we can often administer extremely targeted therapies alternatively of relying on old-college chemotherapy that just kills what ever moves.”

The LifeOmic group worked with physicians and researchers at the Indiana College of Medicine in constructing a cloud-primarily based platform capable of manipulating these gargantuan datasets and, extra importantly, generating them usable to persons. The operate proved so thriving, it rapidly transitioned from the clinical study stage to the day-to-day remedy of complicated cancer situations at Indiana University Wellness.

Seeing his operate develop into so thriving so rapidly had a profound impact on Dr. Brown, motivating him to do extra, to hold pushing LifeOmic forward.

“I’m extremely proud to say oncologists have made use of our technologies to recognize actionable mutations and corresponding therapies for situations previously viewed as hopeless. These are the stories that drive our group of computer software engineers, information scientists, geneticists, and physicians,” he stated. “Along the way, we indulged in a side project that took off in an unexpected way. In the course of my research at Johns Hopkins, I became fascinated with a procedure referred to as hormesis. It is this strange idea that a lot of kinds of stress—as extended as they do not go as well far—actually make us healthier. Whether or not the tension is due to lack of meals, physical exertion, heat, cold, or altitude, our bodies have this remarkable potential to deal and make confident we’re prepared for worse. It turns out the measures our bodies take to deal with these stresses lessen our threat of just about just about every chronic illness, from diabetes to cancer.”

Nevertheless wildly thriving, Dr. Brown realized all this possible had to be straight connected to individuals somehow. To that finish, his group constructed an app that physicians can advise to persons in order to much better communicate with them and, crucially, collect pertinent facts. In addition, the group produced what Dr. Brown described as a “flip book-style” tool that assists in writing and delivering patient education supplies. Each tools in the end are assistive technologies—just not in the classical sense that birthed this column, but accessibility nonetheless.

“This became one more firehose of facts that we could combine with the omics information sets I described previously to get a actual-time understanding of what was taking place in a patient’s body… I assume among the cloud platform and the patient engagement tools, LifeOmic has the most comprehensive finish-to-finish healthcare information management remedy in the planet,” Dr. Brown stated.

At a macro level, the operate by Dr. Brown and his firm is about assisting recognize and protect against catastrophic illnesses like cancer. He’s optimistic about the advancements in health-related tech, especially when it comes to genetics, in assisting medical doctors have an understanding of how illnesses like cancer manifest and how to greatest treat it. Cancer, Dr. Brown stated, is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg the concentrate on DNA has wide-ranging applicability, from neurology to cardiology to endocrinology and a lot of extra disciplines. “Our target is to enable researchers and clinicians to tame these massive information sets and use them to support individuals protect against illness,” he stated. “And of course, to guide clinicians in taking benefit of this facts to personalize remedy when illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s in the end create.”

What LifeOmic is performing is a microcosm of the activity in the business at huge, with Dr. Brown telling me state governments are “actively examining strategies to leverage the possible of precision medicine at the population level to advantage millions of persons.” The identical is taking place elsewhere in the planet Dr. Brown added the United Kingdom is currently speaking about sequencing a child’s genome at birth and then examining how that information may influence healthcare plans all through the person’s life. “That’s exactly where all of this is going. It has been remarkable to watch the convergence of facts technologies and healthcare. With cloud-primarily based platforms, it is now attainable to aggregate all the overall health-associated information described above for every patient,” Dr. Brown stated. “The subsequent step is to make this facts actionable and comprehensible to each clinicians and individuals. Provided the sheer scale of the information, the only way to achieve this is by way of automation.”

He continued: “Harried human physicians hardly have time to scan by way of the electronic health-related record ahead of seeing a patient currently. They have no hope of becoming capable to comprehend the gigabytes of facts in a entire genome sequence substantially significantly less to figure out how to make use of it in clinical practice. Big-scale information aggregation platforms such as the one particular we’ve constructed are the entry ticket to this brave new planet. But the possible is huge. Most excitingly, it delivers the chance to bring customized care to persons who at present do not have access to physicians and other overall health pros.”

Searching towards the future, the target for Dr. Brown is to hold the momentum. As described, he began LifeOmic with hopes he could, to paraphrase Steve Jobs, make a dent in the healthcare universe. So far so fantastic, but seeing as how technological progress is an immutable force, the objective is to move with it.

“It’s been gratifying to see that hope [transforming healthcare] realized in complicated cancer situations. Now the target is to expand use of our technologies to support healthcare pros of all kinds tailor their suggestions and therapies to the distinctive wants of person individuals,” Dr. Brown stated. “If we view the wants of the field as a pyramid, the cloud platform is the really base. Mobile-primarily based patient engagement is the following layer. Subsequent up the stack are the graphical visualizations and analytic tools we’ve added for researchers, but the most significant challenge is to make this technologies obtainable to non-professionals: major care physicians, dietitians, physical therapists, and individuals themselves. We intend to address this challenge with choice-help tools that leverage AI to make precise suggestions. This is all going to take place. It is up to the whole field to reduce by way of the jungle of the [country’s] healthcare method to accomplish broad adoption and understand the huge possible. Researchers of the sort I wanted to be have paved the way. It is up to the rest of us to stroll it.”

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Steven is a freelance tech journalist covering accessibility and assistive technologies, and is primarily based in San Francisco. His operate has appeared in such locations as The Verge, TechCrunch, and Macworld. He’s also appeared on podcasts, NPR, and tv. 

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